State transportation officials overseeing Republic Airport will hold a hearing Tuesday on the proposed construction of seven 36,000-square-foot hangars capable of housing 64 corporate jets, among other projects that would greatly expand the footprint of the airport's main tenant, an aircraft-servicing company.
The hearing comes after the January release of a draft environmental impact report by the state Department of Transportation that found the development by servicing company Sheltair, along with planned runway improvements, would have little adverse impact on communities surrounding the 530-acre airport.
But the report drew sharp complaints from one longtime critic of airport expansion, Helen Norjen, a Woodland civic leader. Norjen criticized it for inadequate attention to aircraft emissions, noise and safety concerns in an interview and in testimony before the Babylon Town board last week.
"If you increase the capacity of the airport to handle these aircraft, you're increasing the environmental impact," she said in a phone interview.
A plan to shift airport runways to add safety areas behind them would affect Sheltair's existing facilities in the northern part of the airport.
The company would relocate and expand into a 41-acre partly-wooded section in the south, removing shrub land, pitch pine and oak forest to make way for hangars and office space, 503 parking spots and a new "fuel field" consisting of four 20,000-gallon jet fuel tanks, one 10,000-gallon tank for aviation fuel, and one 2,000-gallon tank for diesel and unleaded fuel. The DOT has identified six native plant species spotted or expected to live in the wooded area, but the report says "no significant adverse ecological impacts are expected."
Sheltair expects employment with the new development to grow from 97 to 178 full-time positions, with 150 temporary construction jobs. The company projects the number of aircraft based at its Republic facilities would increase from 21 to 64, mostly corporate jets like the Gulfstream, increasing daily takeoffs and landings at the airport by about 36.
In 2012, there were 100,300 takeoffs and landings, 159 noise complaints, 95 jet noise complaints, and 50 jets based at the airport, according to airport manager Mike Geiger.
Projections by the DOT and the FAA about the volume of operations at the airport over time vary with the formula used. Estimates for traffic in 2018 range from around 111,000 operations to around 148,000.
Over that time, estimates call for reduced light aircraft activity and increased corporate jet activity. Jet activity fell to a low of 13,698 operations in 2009 but has been climbing since, and accounts for a disproportionate share of noise complaints to the airport from surrounding communities.
Sheltair's proposal "is designed to create hundreds of new jobs, generate millions in tax revenue and invite new regional investment on Long Island so that general aviation can be an equal partner in creating economic growth," Sheltair marketing director Jen Colon said.
Geiger could not be reached for comment.
The public hearing will be held at 4 p.m. in the Republic Airport Main Terminal, 7150 Republic Airport, East Farmingdale. Comment can be forwarded to airport management until March 15.
The executive report and full draft environmental impact statement are at www.dot.ny.gov/divisions/operating/opdm/aviation/documents.